Before now, the only app games I’ve played have been Angry Birds and Temple Run, so I’m not exactly well-versed in the art of playing games on my phone. That being said, I might just be sold on the idea. Lifeline is an app for iOS and Android (price ranging from totally free to around $1), and it is one of the most engaging and satisfying games I’ve played in a long time. Developed by 3 Minute Games, Lifeline is a genre-bending sci-fi RPG survival horror story mashup … thing. And it’s really, really good.
The game begins when you are contacted by Taylor, a gender non-specific astronaut who is the sole survivor of a disastrous crash on some far-flung moon, and as Taylor’s only point of contact, it’s your job to keep them alive. The narrative is structured much like a choose-your-own-adventure story where you’ll be confronted with situations and given two options to pick from. It’s exactly the right balance of plot and interactivity to keep you entertained. Some of these choices are easy and conversational, and some are much more serious. Sometimes you’ll find yourself confidently deciding on one, where others you’ll be second-guessing both yourself and the game.
A lot of these situations rely heavily on tried-and-true horror tropes, with Taylor hearing strange noises in the dark and wondering whether to investigate or get the hell out of dodge. But although this could have gone either way, it’s actually something I really loved, because the game is extremely genre-savvy. Taylor will even point out the similarities to a horror movie; “Right now, I’m the idiot on the screen.”
In practice, this basically means that Lifeline knows exactly how to play off your expectations in order to subvert them. You’ll have to balance objective logic with your gut instinct, and often, the choices that everything is telling you are stupid—the game and Taylor themselves, included—turn out to be right on the money.